Monday, June 04, 2007

In a Garden

One more remark about small-scale electronics: circuit benders and hardware hackers tend not to route their sounds through common mixers, amps, and loudspeakers, preferring instead to use individual loudspeakers associated physically with each individual instrument. The effect, when played in ensemble, is a vivid re-encounter with traditional chamber or orchestral playing, in which the room, the placement of individual instruments or voices in the room, and the position of the listener work together in complex and diverse ways rather than condense into a uniform sound image. (Cage: "Everyone is in the best seat.") Also: this departure from central sound regulation actually increases the potential for using loudspeakers, both physically close to their instrumental sources and physically remote from them, to create spatial illusions.

1 comment:

Ben.H said...

You're right about people who make individual instruments which need no further amplification; but once microphones and a PA become involved, there is very little thought given to speakers and their placement. Typically, everyone reverts to the same amplification and speaker setup, as if they were a rock band.

I'm amazed the number of times other live electronic performers have questioned me for using "unnatural-sounding" speakers and odd placements during my electronic pieces, as if I'm trying (or they are, for that matter) to stereophonically reproduce an acoustic sound!

Then there are the capital-S Spatialised performances, with elaborate and expensive multi-channel installations, that inevitably sap your will to live after about 3 minutes of listening.